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14 Valentine’s Date Ideas That Aren’t Takeout or a Prix-Fixe Meal

Valentine’s Day is a lot like New Year’s Eve. You make grand plans, set high expectations, and then get rushed through your overpriced set menu at a restaurant that’s overcapacity and wish you’d just stayed home in bed. As long as you’re smooching someone you love when the clock hits midnight, you should be happy at both holidays—but that doesn’t mean you can’t do your best to avoid all the decidedly disappointing clichés. From psychic readings to steamy audiobooks, here are 14 date ideas to inspire your February 14th plans.

Image courtesy of Hotel X Toronto

Splurge on an OTT Romantic Staycation  

From February 8th to 24th, Hotel X Toronto is transforming their 27th floor nook into The Love Nest, a space for Instagram photos and sweet talking, complete with twinkly lights, rose gold balloons, fresh roses and a view of the skyline. For $499 per couple, you’ll receive a chilled bottle of  bubbly, a fondue assortment to gently feed your S.O. and 90 minutes of one-on-one time in the Love Nest. Then, choose between a night stay in a luxury room or a 3-course candlelit dinner for two.

To keep turning up the heat, get in touch with the the hotel’s dedicated Romance Concierge, who will help you book a personalized photo shoot, a romantic film in the private screening room, a couple’s massage, private yoga or an in-suite musical accompaniment. If you’re after an evening of private intimacy, you aren’t going to find anything more luxurious than this.

Download a Steamy AudioBook 

What sets the mood better than smooth jazz? Birthday Suitthe latest audiobook from New York Times bestselling romance novelist, Lauren Blakely. It has a shirtless man on the cover, it’s set in a chocolate shop, and when the female protagonist describes the hunky object of her affection, she says, “If Leo were chocolate, I’d easily add up the ingredients that comprised him. With a touch of pepper and a dash of spice, he’d be a strong, full-bodied dark chocolate, bordering on bittersweet. You’d pair him with a rich red wine and enjoy him by the fireplace.”

Organize a Themed At-Home Meal & Movie

Example: Watch Ratatouille and make ratatouille, watch Roma and try your hand at tortas de tamales, or watch Julie and Julia, and cook a couple of courses from Julia Child’s catalogue of Provencal recipes. If you’re interested in really committing, you could watch A Quiet Place and do your best to prepare a meal in complete silence—or watch Bird Box and eat blindfolded.

Photography via Instagram/@ripleysaquaca

Drink & Dine Under the Sea

Seafood is an aphrodisiac, after all. Both Toronto and Vancouver aquariums are hosting Valentine’s Day events this year: Toronto’s Ripley’s Aquarium of Canada has a three-course dinner (bottle of wine included) by Daniel and Daniel for $275 per couple, and the Vancouver Aquarium is hosting an After Hours Valentine’s Affair that, for $35 per person, lets you explore the galleries with a drink in hand.

Serenade Your Sweetie at Private Karaoke

Book a room at your local karaoke lounge and sing the night away with bottles of Soju. Or, invest in a Rose Gold Wireless Bluetooth Karaoke Microphone for an at-home-sing-along session. (It’s $36 and available on Amazon Prime.) 

Attend the World’s Longest Valentine’s Day Party

Bumble, the female-focused dating app all your single friends are obsessed with, is bringing their digital experience offline and into real life. They’re taking over Toronto’s Bangarang Bar on February 14 from 9PM to late as part of their global Valentine’s Day party. The festivities start in New Zealand, and will travel through Australia, India, Europe and the Americas. There will be complimentary snacks, drinks, games and a top Toronto DJ—and the only thing you need to get in is your Bumble app.

Image via Pinterest

Build a Pillow Fort & Camp Inside

Collect some sheets, a couple of chairs, all of pillows in your house—and set to work re-creating the basement forts you constructed as a kid. A string of lights will make the space especially Pinterest-worthy, but a few carefully placed candles will do just the trick. Then, bring the camping vibes inside with s’mores made over a gas stove and a steaming mug of mulled wine or hot chocolate. You could even crack a window to create a chilly, outdoor adventure environment.

Enrol in a Couples Cooking Class 

Couples cooking class events pop up in all major cities on February 14. Why? Pop culture has made kitchens out to be a very romantic space. Usually, they aren’t—but when you don’t have the do the planning, food prep or dishes, maybe cooking together can be flirty and fun. St. Lawrence Market is hosting a cinema and craft beer themed culinary evening that costs $275 per couple, and will have you making Hand Made Ramen Noodles with Lobster Lemongrass Broth.

Take a Trip to Your Friendly Neighbourhood Psychic 

Do the stars line up in your romantic relationship? There’s only one way to find out.

Photography via Instagram/@trafiqmain

Embark on an Ultra-Specific Food Crawl

Pick your poison: tacos, oysters, dumplings, desserts. Find something you love to eat, then travel around the city indulging in it at multiple locations. If you live on the West Coast, take advantage of the Vancouver Hot Chocolate Festival, which has the city’s best chocolatiers, pastry shops, bakeries, cafes and ice cream makers coming together to serve their take on the humble hot chocolate.

Participate in a Murder Mystery 

Solving a murder might not be what you had in mind for V-Day but why not give it a shot? Toronto’s interactive entertainment troop Mysteriously Yours is hosting a dinner event at the Chelsea Hotel that will set you back $119 per person, and at Fort Calgary there’s a Death by Chocolate themed evening that’s almost a little too frightening for the holiday.

Get Stoned & Paint Something 

It’s both the activity and the gift. You can DIY this date at home, or, purchase a $70 per couple ticket to this Toronto event where music, beverages, snacks and a paint brush will be provided.

Photography courtesy of TORA

Seek Out a Creative Dining Experience

Futuristic laneway sushi? Head to Toronto’s recently opened TORA. Dinner with a side of indoor surfing? Head to Montreal’s Oasis Surf. A speakeasy with magicians and a secret burlesque room? Head to Toronto’s Coffee Oysters Champagne, where you’ll find the 1920’s inside a champagne cellar. Search the Internet for something unique, and give it a try.

Revisit Your Youth & Go to Prom 

Vancouver’s annual People’s Prom is described as “the prom you never had in high school: it’s a community-oriented, anti-capitalist, queer, cross-dressing, gender-bending, bike loving, slow dancing, big dress wearing, good time.” Since 2000, the event has been raising money for radical resistance, using their proceeds to “support projects that are often unable to obtain mainstream sources of funding.”